As the smell of fresh-cut pine replaces the pumpkin scents of fall, another seasonal crop is beginning to bloom. From little white flowers come the beautiful and juicy fruits- Strawberries! Food is the center of celebration for most holidays, so why not make this red and green crop a part of your holiday tradition this year?
The local couple pictured here, Luc & Sonia Duytsche, have started one of Central Florida’s only organic strawberry patches, A Natural Farm & Educational Center. Located in Howey-in-the-Hills, everything they grow is chemical-free.
Luc says, “We are not organic certified and we will not go through the process, but we personally believe in not using chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Our strawberries are in full bloom right now and we should start selling fruits (U-pick or we-pick) within a month.” A strawberry always tastes best when it is picked fresh at the peak of the season, and especially when you pick it yourself! The tasteless strawberries you find in the grocery mid-fall are often picked before they are ripe, making the Duytsche’s berries well worth the wait!
They also sell strawberry plants in various sizes (4″ pots, 10″ hanging baskets, flower pouches and stacking self-watering planters). They have olive trees in two sizes and blueberry plants too. They will setup an outdoor classroom in the coming weeks under their big live oak to offer classes to local schools on different, seasonal subjects. They hope to give farm tours for those interested once they are settled in.
You can arrange a visit by calling Luc (pictured at left) at 352.536.3112. If strawberries aren’t your thing, consider one of Central Florida’s organic citrus groves instead. Check out localharvest.org or realtimefarms.com to find a farm near you.